So, 2020 struck. My father had a cardiac arrest. He’s doing okay and recovering very well but writing blog posts hasn’t really been a priority.
I’m going to just try and enjoy the rest of the year quietly and post more articles in January. Here’s my femme!xmas tree and a gingerbread camper that I made because life is too short not to try new things and I think it turned out pretty great.
I have a guilty secret; I love disaster movies. Disaster movies in any iteration are my bread and butter. Natural disasters and manmade disasters, you name it, I love it. From earthquake to terrorist attacks to avalanches to nuclear reactors failing, I want it all.
Ultimately it’s about normal people thrust into completely wild situations. Bring it on! Most movies fall into that basic arc but disaster movies are something really special. Usually, there’s an element of dumbness to them (let me tell you about all the stupid-dark movies on Netflix I love); the same kind of “don’t go in there!’ vibes you get from watching a horror movie, but with the bonus of not having serial killers or demons. The character you like is easy to like. The character you hate is easy to watch die dramatically. Disaster movies are easy watching, even as buildings collapse, and people are impaled.
With all that in mind, I loathe one disaster movie above all others.
‘The Perfect Storm’
The problem is that it is actually a perfect disaster movie, it has all the right elements and timing and writing. It’s on a bunch of lists of ‘great disaster movies’. But I just can’t stand it.
Ultimately there are a few things a great disaster movie needs. A great story, with great action, and great characters. And finally some sort of X-Factor. I’m not above arguing that The Perfect Storm meets the three criteria points, but jeepers, it seems like it barely makes the grade and there isn’t much there that wow’s me. So, if you’ll pardon the pun, let’s dive in.
So, I didn’t make it to the next round of judging in one of the competitions I entered. It really sucks, but I’d rather write about it here than pretend that a) nothing is wrong and b) I’m both far removed and successful in this industry. I’m not. I write with advice that I’ve gleaned from experience, time and the education I’ve received but I’m far from an expert.
I’m in the same writing boat all of you are. This is a hard profession. This is a low point but one day there’ll be a high point. It seems silly to not document all the ups and downs this screenwriting journey is taking me on. In fact I think it’s a privilege to share each bit with all of you, warts and all. I’ll be sad for a little bit and that’s part of the process.
I didn’t make it to the next round of judging. It sucks. I’m bummed out. But tomorrow’s another day and the small feedback I received is enough to help me keep going.
My computer died. (It was so dramatic. It froze, and then the start up disk disappeared. I was texting Apple tech support for about three hours before they decided it was better to just send it in to be repaired.) It’s been a little hard to try and get anything done with my phone, and very ancient iPad, so I’m foregoing a main article this week. I can kind of type stuff but it’s just like pulling teeth.
But I’ve got some article ideas for you to look forward to! Are you excited?!
Cozy Autumn Essentials; great products to make writing more cozy and comfy in the coming months!
Finding Your Voice; exploring some of the super unique voices in cinema (think Joss Whedon’s works and shows like Hannibal). And how to balance between making your voice your signature and telling your story.
A review of the podcast, Dead Eyes! I’ve been listening to this and it’s a really interesting, funny look into the actual reality of Hollywood.
That’s what I’ve got so far. Anything pique your interest? Is there anything you’d like me to write about? Comment below and let me know!p
It’s odd that just last week I was worried about submitting to screenplay competitions. That was the main thing and a real source of almost stress.
I say ‘almost,’ because my father had a health scare last Saturday; he went to the hospital. He’s fine now, but I thought I knew what stress really before it happened. I had some tough college years and experiences but it was nothing compared to this. It was surreal too in a post-Covid19 context; how do you experience a family member in the hospital when you can’t go in and see them in the hospital? Again, he’s fine now, and that’s also a source of stress because the doctors cannot tell us what happened. I know nothing about the world of medicine but how many possible causes are there for a person’s lungs and heart to fill with fluid?
I’ve been less than productive so far this week because of what happened. The face of a parent’s mortality can do that I guess. I’m taking it easy, hoping I can come up with my screenplay articles by the end of the week.
Life is weird and comes at you from unexpected places.
At least my dogs are cute. What a boon a ding-dong poodle is.
I’m trying to decide if I want to tweak and submit one of my pilots to competitions again. There’s a few that are due on the 31st, and the pilot did okay last year (AFF Second Rounder good! Yippie!), so it’s not a completely impossible option. Hell, it might be a good shot even. I’m almost optimistic. Almost
I just don’t want to get my hopes up. That messed me up last year. Even when I got the email saying I was a second-rounder, I felt bad about it. Good, but not good enough. I’m older and wiser this year, but I know if I submit to anything there will still be that small flicker in me that says “This is it! This is your chance.” When it isn’t “it,” it ain’t great.
This industry can be a real kick in the pants sometimes. Just a real wallop of angst.
And I feel kind of duplicitous because I tell my clients and anyone reading this blog that a good screenplay can go a long way. But I’ve had a few good screenplays under my belt, (like actually good, I’m not just being arrogant), but they haven’t made it very far.
I’ll figure this all out, but I also don’t want to be dishonest about how draining this career choice can be. Everyone’s writing screenplays, which means competition is fierce. And I’m probably the least competitive person on the planet. If nothing else, getting into screenwriting has been an exercise in not just rolling over onto my back and letting the world mow over me.
I’ll do it. The submission fee isn’t that pricey, and every little bit of exposure matters in this industry.
So, needless to say, the quarantine has really affected my life. Not as much as some, and financially I’m okay (sort of), but boy howdy this is not where I thought I’d be a few months ago.
I’m back in Sonora, which is a little rough. I was getting really comfortable in SF and now I’m back in this awful podunk town. I keep trying to tell myself that the few interactions I have here are good research for future stories, but it’s hard to get over the mental hump of being here in the first place.
I started the year thinking I was going to be moving to LA and also submitting to a bunch of different competitions.
Instead I’m in Sonora, and I’ve got less than a week for my two top competitions final deadlines, and haven’t written anything. (or rather, I’ve written pages and pages, and then trashed them because they weren’t working).
I’m so tired of the inane “this is the time to finish that big project” messages that are getting churned out at a time like this. Sure, some of us have more time, but it’s not like a vacation, it’s not the same as spending a day home from work. Even if we’re all just overreacting and this all blows over, you cannot deny that this is a hard place to be mentally. How do you finish anything when the world is falling apart? Why should you finish anything when the world is falling apart.
I’m not getting as much work done, but I’m not going to make myself feel guilty about it (more than usual at least; do not underestimate my catholic upbringing and anxiety to key up any feelings of guilt, warranted or not).
I’m not getting work done because I’m worried. I’m not getting work done because I’m trying to plan ahead in a world of innumerable uncertainties. I’m not getting work done because I’m with my family and they’re a simultaneously source of comfort and extreme tension.
Wash your hands. Stop panicking every time you feel a tickle in your throat (that’s mainly for me). Good luck everyone.
My last big girl blog post was about being a fat woman trying to make it as a screenwriter.
Now I’m wondering if perhaps a more pertinent problem is just to be a woman trying to make it as a screenwriter. And whether or not that’s worth it in an industry that is so skewed.
I’m of course talking about the Roman Polanski win at the Cesars in France (god bless Adèle Haenel and the others who walked out!). But I’m also talking about Harvey Weinstein. And I’d be remiss to forget about all the women snubbed at the Oscars last year — Natalie Portman may have embroidered their names on her cloak, but they deserved so much more.
According to Woman and Hollywood and the Center For the Study of Women in Television and Film, of the top 100 grossing films in 2019, only 20% of the writers were women (I don’t have the stats on POC, or WOC, but I imagine they’re equally abysmal). The disparity is just astounding and awkward. This wasn’t some statistic from two decades ago, these were the films from last year. The industry tells time and time again that our voices and our writing isn’t worth it.
I’m tired. That’s all I can say. It’s International Women’s Day and it doesn’t feel like things are changing at all. Maybe they’re getting worse. And I don’t have a solution; I can’t offer any real advice. I’m struggling and I’m hoping it’s because I’m struggling like every other writer and not because my gendered name on the cover page of my screenplays (my mom once told me that I should change my name on my writing from Elizabeth to Eli… I’m almost tempted to try it).
I’m just going to keep writing. That’s all I can do.
To all the women out there feeling less than great about how things are in our industry – and really, any industry – I’m with you. We’re just going to keep going, and we’re eventually going to win.
Thank you to all the women who are standing up and fighting back.
I’m going to be brutally honest; there’s something utterly devastating and soul-crushing about being plus size in a world that idolizes thinness. That’s just a fact. Right now I’m sitting pretty at a size 20-22 jean and a 3X shirt and sometimes don’t want to leave the house because of the potential to be seen by some jerk who thinks they know what’s best for me. Los Angeles, California (and really the whole world?), just doesn’t have the infrastructure and chutzpah to love someone like me. Further still, I grew up in San Francisco which, while a notoriously liberal and accepting culture, definitely has no problem shaming fat people for being ‘unhealthy’. (The whole city is proof positive that hating fat people is the last remaining ‘acceptable’ prejudice. Yikes, right?)
And I’m one of the lucky ones; the vitriol infini-fats, and plus size POC and GNC people suffer is beyond cruel. If you squint I’m an ‘hourglass’ shape, (and I’m not going to lie, my face is super cute which doesn’t hurt). I can fake being thinner than I am in pictures. If I stick with above the waist selfies or angle things just right I look more conventionally attractive.